Aug. 25, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Brian Barnes, highly-regarded assistant coach the last three years for an Auburn University swimming program that produced multiple NCAA men’s and women’s swimming team championships, has been named the University of Notre Dame’s head women’s swimming coach.
Barnes becomes the fifth head coach in the program’s 25-year history after serving as an assistant coach at Auburn since 2005.
“We’re thrilled that Brian has come to lead our women’s swimming program,” said Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick.
“He has worked with world-class swimmers at Auburn, and he competed as part of a program at Indiana that has as much tradition as any. He absolutely understands what it takes to be successful in the environment of women’s swimming at the intercollegiate level.”
“It’s an absolute honor to be here at Notre Dame,” Barnes said. “My coaching career has now gone full circle, beginning as a club coach for 10-year-olds and practicing at (Notre Dame’s) Rolfs Aquatic Center to being the head coach here.
“I’m fired up and honored to be able to represent Notre Dame. This school is one of the finest academic institutions in the world, and I certainly believe that you also can have high levels of success here at Notre Dame in women’s swimming and diving.”
An Osceola, Ind., native, Barnes helped guide both the Auburn men’s and women’s swimming teams to NCAA Championships in 2006 and 2007. The men won the Southeastern Conference meet three times from 2006 through `08, while the women picked up a pair of league titles during that span. In 2008, Auburn’s men placed fifth at the NCAA meet, with the women posting a runner-up performance.
Barnes spent the bulk of his time working with Auburn’s middle-distance performers. The Auburn student-athletes earned 84 All-America honors from 30 different athletes and six NCAA individual championships in Barnes’ final season with the program in ’08 — as the women finished their season as one of the top two teams in the country for the seventh year in a row. The Tiger women have won five of the last seven NCAA team titles with the only other second-place finish coming in 2005.
Barnes spent three seasons (2002-05) as the assistant men’s swimming coach at his alma mater, Indiana University. He helped coach the 2005 Hoosiers to their highest finish at the NCAA Championships since 1991 and their first 10-win dual meet season since 1985. In 2005, Indiana garnered 29 All-America honors, most since 1976, and finished second at the Big Ten Conference Championships. In 2004, the Hoosiers had five All-Americans and finished 17th at the NCAA Men’s Championships.
Prior to his coaching stint at Indiana, Barnes served as the head coach of the Lawrence (Kan.) Aquahawks from 1998-02. With the Aquahawks, he was responsible for the general management of a 200-member, parent-run swim club. He created a program for swimmers ages five to 22, planning practices and meet schedules for swimmers of all ages and abilities. During his tenure, Barnes produced a number of collegiate swimmers who went on to swim at the NCAA Division I level and was recognized as the Region VIII Coach of the Year in 2000.
Before joining the Aquahawks, Barnes served as the assistant coach at the University of Kansas from 1997-98. He developed daily workouts and was involved in every aspect of recruiting. Barnes began his coaching career with the Michiana Marlins, a USA Swimming club team in South Bend, Ind., that held practices in the Rolfs Aquatic Center at Notre Dame.
At his club stops, Barnes coached a 2002 National Junior Team swimmer, a 2001 Central Zone record-holder, a 1998 World Championship finalist, two of the top eight finalists at the Senior Nationals in 1996, and a Missouri Valley swimming record-holder. He also coached several national age-group top-16 qualifiers (including one champion), several Missouri Valley age-group champions, numerous Indiana State Champions and record-holders, and several national championship qualifiers.
Barnes was a highly-accomplished swimmer during his career at Indiana from 1992-95. He was a two-time All-American and a five-time honorable mention All-American. His school record in the 400 individual medley stood for more than 15 years from 1992 until 2007. A two-time team most valuable swimmer, he served as team captain during his senior campaign.
The two-time Indiana Swimming Male Swimmer of the Year (1989, 1995) was also a member of the USA Swimming National Team in 1989 and 1992. Barnes was a U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in 1992 and 1996.
A 1995 graduate of Indiana, Barnes earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and is a level-4 certified member of the American Swimming Coaches Association.
In July 2004, Barnes married the former Alyssa Winter of Surry, N.H. They are parents of a son, Jack, born in October 2006.
Barnes inherits one of the premier programs in the BIG EAST Conference, which features 12 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers from 2008. The Irish captured their 12th consecutive conference title at the 2008 BIG EAST Swimming and Diving Championships with 767 points, defeating second-place Louisville by 239.5 points. By capturing the title, Notre Dame holds the longest BIG EAST championship-winning streak of any team in any sport. The Irish also set five school records at the league meet.
What They’re Saying About Brian Barnes . . .
Richard Quick, Head Swimming and Diving Coach, Auburn University: “Brian is a great coach that many people in the nation don’t know about yet. He has great intuition in terms of what an athlete needs and how to get the most out of that athlete.”
David Marsh, Head Swimming Coach, United States Olympic Committee Center of Excellence with Mecklenburg Aquatic Club (N.C.): “He is one of the top young coaches in the United States. His background gives him tremendous experience at all levels and in all events. The passion Brian will pour into Notre Dame will no doubt lead to phenomenal success in the future. Notre Dame hit a home run with this hire.”
Vicki Schmidt, Kansas State Senator: “I’m one of Brian’s most ardent fans. He is the best thing in swimming. He is everything that is great about a coach and represents all that a coach should be. He coached our son throughout high school and became a part of our family, and it speaks to Brian’s character that he has stayed in touch with us throughout the years. I wish I could have sent more children his way! He has no weaknesses, only strengths. Notre Dame is a lucky school to have landed him. He will make the University proud. I’m thrilled that he gets to return home and I look forward to following his progress.”
Eric Nelson, Head Swimming Coach, Wichita Swim Club (Kan.): “I think Notre Dame made a great hire in Brian Barnes. He is a great leader of student-athletes. He’s an extremely confident and professional coach. The best thing about him is that he cares about people. Notre Dame will turn out great swimmers and great people under Brian.”